NYC has grown on me over the past few years. NYC and I have a love-hate relationship if I am completely honest with you. There are times that I hate it completely and can’t wait to get away, but then there are always times that it catches me off guard at unexpected times and completely mesmerizes me. New York City can seem completely cold hearted, but there is truly so much life within.
Regardless, there are so many cool things to see in NYC. I could not possibly list all of the things to see in NYC to you, but here is a running list of things that you should see in New York City sometime. Many of these are things that we like to visit often or were really memorable experiences for us.
****Note: This post may include affiliate links to products I recommend. I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) from purchases from these links. But no worries, I only include links to products that we have tried or truly recommend!
*****Everything in this article is my personal opinion and experiences. Check your own resources and choose to do anything I discuss at your own risk. Some of the things in this post may be dangerous and not recommended for every body.
There’s so much to see in Central Park! It is absolutely gorgeous and a true star of New York City. Here are some of my favorite places to visit in Central Park.
1. Bethesda Terrace
Bethesda Terrace has fountains, the best musical performers, and a view of The Lake.
2. The Loeb Boathouse
At Loeb Boathouse, rent a rowboat and row throughout The Lake and get a unique and serene view of the city.
3. Conservatory Water
Conservatory Water is a peaceful reflecting pool that in the summer has miniature sail boats floating across that you can rent.
Hudson Yards is a rather new area of the city. One of the highlights at Hudson Yards is the Vessel, a giant copper colored public art sculpture that you can climb the stairs within to the top. Also at Hudson Yards is a mall that is decorated with millions of twinkling lights at the end of the year for the holidays.
The Edge is one of the newer lookouts in the city. The Edge is open air and has glass walls (unlike other lookouts in the city) so that you can see the city from all views. One perk of The Edge is that it allows you to see other iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building and the One World Trade Center (instead of going to the top of one of those buildings where you can’t actually see the building itself from the top).
Brooklyn Bridge is an absolute classic. It can be very touristy, especially in the summer and in the middle of the day, but you will see New Yorkers commuting via the bridge or going for their morning run. I have two recommendations for visiting Brooklyn Bridge:
1. Go in the EARLY morning if you want to experience the bridge more privately and without being squished with other people or being ran over by a bike. Most tourists don’t go early in the morning, so it is mainly locals on the bridge, and essentially much less people.
2. Walk on the bridge until the incline stops and it goes flat if possible. Many people that are just visiting will walk only to where the pavement ends and the wooden walkway begins, but trust me when I say the views get so much better once you’re a little farther out and on the flat part of the bridge.
New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
While the New York Public Library is all throughout the city in many different branches, the most popular one and one that many people visit is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. It is located adjacent to Bryant Park and is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. From outside you will see the iconic lion statues, columns, and stone steps.
There are many seating options outside. Inside is just as beautiful with amazing stone work and art. It is free to enter and has many free exhibits to see, even if you are just a visitor and don’t have a library card.
Bryant Park Ice Skating and Christmas Market
Bryant Park is a gem, especially for being so close to the buzz of Times Square. Bryant Park always has an event going on, whether it’s movies on the lawn, ice skating, concerts, or holiday market. There is a ton of seating in Bryant Park and it’s a great place to stop and catch a break. (There’s an amazing bakery on the south west corner of Bryant Park called Ole & Steen that I HIGHLY recommend).
Rockefeller Center has stuff going on all year long, but it is especially nice to visit in the winter when the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and holiday decorations are up. It is featured in many movies and is an iconic place to visit.
Chelsea Market is a popular spot with many shops and food options. There are a wide variety of unique restaurants at Chelsea Market. It is often decorated for the season or holiday. Throughout the year they have different events.
The Highline is a park and walkway near lower west side of Manhattan. It is 1.45 miles long in length, but can be walked in short sections. Along the highline, you can see many murals and have a unique view of the city by walking up above the street (hence the name highline).
Chinatown is one of my very favorite parts of the city. It is so unique and special compared to other parts of the city. Chinatown has so many amazing and authentic restaurants. Everyone here is so kind. We have so many favorite places in Chinatown and definitely try to visit here as much as possible.
My favorite restaurant is Deluxe Green Bo. The best buns and pastries are at Fay Da Bakery.
Koreatown is a part of town that we more recently discovered, but absolutely love. We come here often for amazing food or boba tea. One of our favorite restaurants in Koreatown is Koku Ramen on 32nd Street. Grace Street Desserts has amazing sweets and delicious teas.
You can get to Dumbo by either walking across the entire Brooklyn Bridge or taking the subway over. Dumbo has one of the prettier views of Manhattan. From Dumbo you have a view of lower Manhattan with many of the tall skyscrapers including the World Trade Center, but also with views of Brooklyn Bridge as well. There is a nice park at Dumbo where you can walk, sit, relax, and take in views of the city.
Long Island City
Long Island City, often referred to as LIC, also has great views of the city. The iconic Pepsi-Cola sign that can be seen from Manhattan is found here.
Statue of Liberty
Everyone should go to the Statue of Liberty at least once. The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are actually a National Historical Park and are ran by the National Park Service. Ferries take people from Battery Park in lower Manhattan (or Liberty State Park in New Jersey) to Liberty Island (where the Statue of Liberty is), to Ellis Island, and back to where you originally got on the boat. Tickets can be bought through Statue Cruises.
Roosevelt Island is a small island located in between Manhattan and Queens. You can get to Roosevelt Island by subway, but the best way to reach Roosevelt Island is by the Roosevelt Island Tramway. Taking the tram costs the same amount as a subway ride but gives you a bird’s eye view of the city. The tram takes you up over buildings and water to reach Roosevelt Island. There are many things to do at Roosevelt Island including parks, memorials, and restaurants.
Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry is a free ferry that takes you from lower Manhattan to Staten Island. Even if you don’t get off the ferry at Staten Island, it is a fun (and free!) thing to do that has amazing city views. It is cold in the winter, but is really nice in the summer (especially on hot days).
Empire State Building
Many people think of the Empire State Building when they think of NYC. It’s in so many movies and is an iconic symbol of the Big Apple. You can go to the top of the Empire State Building, which can be quite expensive (and you don’t even see the building itself when you go to the top!). If you’re trying to save money or unable to go to the top, walking the streets around the Empire State Building can be a great way to see the Empire State Building clearly.
The Color Factory Museum
The Color Factory is located in Soho in Manhattan. It is a super fun place to visit with lots of colors and unique exhibits. Throughout your visit, there are different foods to sample and try. Ticket prices vary and must be booked in advance.
The Museum of Ice Cream
The Museum of Ice Cream is another fun “museum” that has fun exhibits and experiences. I should say that it is not really museum at all, but rather a fun, interactive art experience.
We love Artechouse. Artechouse is a space where technology and art converge. The floors and walls of this giant room are covered in digital moving art. It is honestly hard to explain, so be sure to look at my pictures of it. You can sit, stand, and walk around this room with its moving exhibit. We sat on cushions on the floor and let the light flow over us. It makes you feel as if you’re moving, even though you’re staying in the same place. There are also some cool smaller rooms with interactive exhibits. The exhibits change every few months, so there are also different experiences to have there.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, referred to as the MET for short, is an absolute classic of NYC. It’s located in Upper East Side along Central Park. The MET has an indescribable amount of artwork. You could spend days here and still not see everything. It is especially great to visit here on a rainy or cold day in the city. There is so much to tell you about visiting the MET, so be sure to check out my Metropolitan Museum of Art Post to get all of the details.
Pro tip: If you’re a student in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, bring your student ID for pay-what-you-wish tickets!
Times Square comes to mind for many people when they think of New York City. As someone who lives here, it’s someplace we try to avoid. Times Square is good to visit at least once regardless if you live here or are from far away. Definitely go after dark to get the full effect of all of the lights.
The Flatiron is a building shaped almost like a block of cheese. It comes to a rounded point on once end where streets diverge. You can’t go inside the Flatiron Building, but it is cool to see. In that area, there is Eataly, which is a giant place full of delicious, authentic Italian food and Italian restaurants.
Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park is located near NYU, and therefore is a hub of young people. The park is filled with people of all kinds, people reading on benches, teenagers riding skateboards. Washington Square Park is also home to the fountain and arch seen in the “Friends” intro video. Whether you’re visiting for the vibe or to imagine yourself in the cast of friends with Jennifer Anniston, there is much to do around Washington Square Park.
Williamsburg is an up-and-coming area located in Brooklyn. Williamsburg is full of hipster coffee shops, vintage stores, and unique food you can’t find anywhere else. Murals cover many buildings, like a free art show as you walk the streets. Williamsburg has a much different vibe than Manhattan, even though it’s only 1 subway stop away. Walk down Bedford Ave. and stop in a lot of little shops. I recommend going to the Partners Coffee in Williamsburg, as its one of my favorite coffee shops in the area.
Little Island at Pier 55
Little Island is one of NYC’s newest parks. It is unique in that it is a concrete island covered in beautiful gardens that sits on the Hudson River. There are bridges connecting you from mainland Manhattan to the little island. The location of Little Island is actually where the pier that Titanic Survivors returned to after being rescued. After that pier fell into disrepair many years later, Little Island was created and is now a place that you can relax and enjoy.
Union Square is a park in Midtown. There are often events at Union Square. My favorite thing at Union Square is the Union Square Greenmarket which is open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Local vendors sell many homemade and homegrown items such as vegetables, meats, bread, and honey. Also close by to Union Square is one of the cooler bookstores in NYC, The Strand. The Strand is an awesome bookstore with millions of books that can be found just a block south of Union Square.
American Museum of Natural History
If you’ve ever seen the movie “A Night at the Museum,” you have seen the American Museum of Natural History. The American Museum of Natural History is located in Upper West Side along Central Park. This museum is really cool and a great place to take kids. There are many different exhibits here ranging from dinosaur bones, to environmental exhibits, to anthropological displays.
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